How Inktober Helped Me To Cure a Creative Block

Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet and her ink drawing on a Nuuna sketchbook.

This month, I am participating in a daily drawing challenge called Inktober. My goal was to make 10 ink drawings based on the first ten official prompts. I have passed the goal, and now I am trying to make as many as I can. As an experience, this challenge has had a ground-breaking effect on me. With Inktober prompts, I have discovered a creative block and cured it!

Supplies

For the first five drawings, I used black pens and inks from the stash. My illustrations have been quite detailed, so they take a lot of ink. I have made some purchases and will need more pens if I keep going. Here’s what I have currently in use!

Nuuna Square Bang Sketchbook and drawing supplies

I make the drawings on Nuuna Square Bang Sketchbook. It is 9,5 x 9,5 inches, which is a good size for daily work. The basic pens are Copic Multiliners. The tip sizes that I now have are 0.1, 0.3, and 1.0. I am planning to purchase 0.05 too because I like to draw small elements! I also have a Pentel brush pen for larger areas. I love this pen. It is refillable and comes with extra ink tanks. The brush is wonderfully soft and precise and the ink flows effortlessly.

My Expectations – Stretching to a More Masculine Zone

I started the challenge with an open mind. Building Watercolor Journey was a huge workload. I wanted to make a comprehensive class, and it took a lot of my time during the summer. Now when I got the self-study version available, I wanted to reward myself by taking part in the challenge. My idea was to draw what I love, the only limitations being that I had to use black ink and follow the prompts.

Because Inktober is mostly for fantasy artists, the themes are very different than what I would choose. Many of the prompts are about the darker side of life, but I thought that little stretching would do me good. The biggest fear that I had was that the people who follow me on social media would totally ban me. I knew that because of the prompts and the black ink, my work would look more masculine than before. But I didn’t expect anything ground-breaking to happen regarding my style or visual voice. But something did happen, quite unexpectedly.

Discovering a Creative Block

When I picked a pen and started drawing the first image, I heard myself saying: “Paivi, be careful.” The tone was gentle but the voice was definitely of my inner critic. And as soon as I wondered what I should be careful about, an old drawing came to my mind. It was a black ink drawing as well, an exercise for the first class that I took in industrial design. We had to make a series of images showing the product, and mine was a hilarious collection of detailed drawings showing all the enthusiasm I had for industrial design back then. I don’t remember the exact words that my teacher used but I got the message that it was all wrong, a bit pathetic even. I should be more systematic and not so decorative.

It was a critique that was beneficial for an industrial designer but totally irrelevant and wrong for a person who is more of an artist and illustrator. But back then, I was not able to see that the direction that I was heading was different so I took it deep into my heart. I also remember some other situations during my studies when I was accused of being too decorative. That was good for me back then, opening my eyes for expressing the form instead of the surface only. But now when working in the field of art, the situation is different.

So when I heard the whisper to be careful, it meant that I should not be too decorative when drawing industrially manufactured items like syringes that I intended to include in the first drawing. Becoming aware of this block has turned a new page in my artistic path.

Inktober #1 – Poisonous

Maybe sometimes we think that something is poisonous when it’s not?

Poisonous - Illustration by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Entry for Inktober 2018.

While drawing the first entry for the challenge, I allowed myself to be as decorative and detailed as possible. I accepted the union of industrial objects and more abstract elements and went with the flow. Here’s to those past student years!

Inktober #2 – Tranquil

To me, tranquility and yarn go hand in hand. In the evenings I like to knit, cross-stitch, or quilt to calm myself down. So it’s like the threads and yarn tie little moments happened during the day together. The day that felt chaotic in the afternoon becomes tranquil and meaningful before I go to sleep.

Tranquil - Illustration by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Entry for Inktober 2018.

The second insight came with the second prompt. I haven’t even considered myself a surreal artist, but the drawing came out so naturally that it started to make sense.

Inktober #3 – Roasted

After starting to work from home, I have been forced to get deeper into the world of cooking. I have made some disastrous meals because I don’t like to follow recipes and don’t have much experience either. But now, after four years, I have found a way that works quite often. I buy good ingredients. I study several recipes and then figure out what my version could be. I use a timer a lot, just because I am often in my thoughts and don’t realize how minutes fly. I like roasted vegetables, especially roasted carrots, so this is for them!

Roasted - Illustration by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Entry for Inktober 2018.

With the third prompt, I wanted to try if I could make something out of less romantic subjects that I would normally choose. Here, I found drawing the oven most inspiring which was an interesting observation. Is the industrial designer raising her head?

Inktober #4 – Spell

I connect the spell with the atmosphere of the inner world. It could be like a cloud hanging over the scenery, sending sounds and lighting candles. I haven’t been a big fan of fantasy novels or such, but when I am creating, the fantasy can easily take over!

Spell - Illustration by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Entry for Inktober 2018.

The prompt was a weird one for me, but the result is the old average. It didn’t feel so comfortable anymore. Something was lacking there.

Inktober #5 – Chicken

Something big is happening and the change feels scary.
– “I can’t do it! I have to protect what I already have.”
And then the whole universe shouts “Chicken!”
You can’t stop the change. You need to follow the eggs.

Chicken - Illustration by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Entry for Inktober 2018.

The fifth drawing started as a funny one, but at the end, it felt like it was speaking about me. Consciously, I didn’t have any idea what had changed but it felt that I can’t keep on creating like before.

Inktober #6 – Drooling

When your mind is drooling for beauty so that you feel you are eating all the forbidden fruits.

Drooling - Illustration by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Entry for Inktober 2018.

In this drawing, it became visible and clear to me that my creative block had forbidden me to draw decorative items that I adore. I love high fashion, jewelry, elegant fabrics, tassels, pearls, fur, you name it. I don’t grave them so that I would like to wear or own them but my world of fantasy never has a lack of this luxury. I have always thought this is a superficial characteristic in me, but this attitude feels too restricting now when I am more conscious of it.

Inktober #7 – Exhausted

Here’s how I define the exhaustion of the 21st century: You have done too much, and it feels like you have done nothing yet. You have too much stuff to sort out, and it feels like you haven’t got all you need. You are at the bottom of the big pile, and the clock is ticking: “Don’t forget! You are late!”

Exhausted - Illustration by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Entry for Inktober 2018.

When drawing like this, I feel the satisfaction that I have never had before. It’s not that this way of expression would be technically more brilliant than my best work so far or superior to what everybody else does. It’s just that it’s like looking myself in the mirror, seeing all the goods and bads, and accepting what’s there. Isn’t it so that no matter how much you admire other artists if you imagine their work to be yours, it feels empty or defective in some ways? At least to me, there are hundreds of artists that I admire passionately and would happily hang their paintings on my walls, but if I were the one creating them, my fingers would itch to change something.

Inktober #8 – Star

Even if I work from home and live an extremely boring life (if you look at it from outside that is), I am a nomad, we all are. We get it when Harley-Davidson advertises motorcycles with the slogan: “Everything you need, nothing you don’t.” It’s about The Freedom – a full-designed package of service including a couple of woven carpets, one string of prayer flags, five long minutes of photographing bokeh and flares on the mountains, a ride downhill feeling a warm wind and hearing the sound of the beautifully polished engine. Some change the motorcycle to a horse or even to a Corvette, but it’s all the same, here’s to The Freedom!

Star - Illustration by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Entry for Inktober 2018.

During the challenge, I have not only found new ways to draw, but I have also discovered that I am bursting with stories! Most of the stories are connected with items that have a symbolic meaning to me.

Inktober #9 – Precious

We get excited about a new thing. The next thought is that we need the products. All the products. Happened to me so many times! But hey, let’s not get lost in the products. Discovering yourself is more precious than any product.

Precious - Illustration by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Entry for Inktober 2018.

What if the challenge wouldn’t have the restriction of supplies, and what if it wouldn’t be specifically for inks, related to my creative block? It’s possible that nothing would have changed. Seeing the stream of simple drawings and how they change one after another, has brought such clarity that I wonder how many times the creative blocks hide under products. When I have bought a new set of this or that, have I subconsciously avoided the block?

Inktober #10 – Flowing

In the Renaissance, the strong currency called Florin enabled the birth of financial professionals like bankers. Today, their working environment looks very different, and the change may feel vast, but that’s only if we keep our perspective narrow.
The facts:
Renaissance was about 500 years ago.
The age of the earth: 4,5 billion years.
The age of our universe: 13.8 billion years.
Here’s to honor all who work in finance but also to remind how money is just a tiny island in the flowing ocean of time.

Flowing - Illustration by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Entry for Inktober 2018.

As a former engineer, I believe in the power of knowledge. But it’s new that I want to express that in my art too!

Inktober #11 – Cruel

Life can be cruel. It throws more and more for those who already have plenty while those who have nothing can’t get anything.

Cruel - Illustration by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Entry for Inktober 2018.

This prompt was not an easy one. I felt sadness and shame. But once I got the idea,  I had to draw it out.

Inktober #12 – Whale

Love makes us brave. No matter how timid we are, we can do anything for those who we love.

Whale - Illustration by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Entry for Inktober 2018.

During Inktober, I have found a way to connect the things that I love from storytelling to decorative designs and illustrational art. So far, it has brought a new sense of happiness in my artistic path. It’s also a scary feeling – what will happen next, what will I do with all these? Time will tell!

You can follow my entries daily (as long as I can keep up) on Facebook or on Instagram.

Colored Pencil Collages – Playing with Color

Fall in love with colored pencils and make the most of your paper stash!  I also recommend these classes:
1) Collageland – save time and effort by creating textile-inspiration with pens and paper
2) Inspirational Drawing – for you who wants to say: “I can draw!”

The Fun Process of Colored Pencil Collages

"Poppy Love" - an art journal page by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See her instructions for colored pencil collages!

Here’s is an art journal page that started as a sad one. First, it only had some carelessly drawn lines. Months went by before it got some paint to accompany the doodles. After another long wait, it got some depth with colored pencils. It still looked unhappy, so I glued a piece of hand-decorated paper to cheer it up. Today, I found it again and was surprised how finished it looked.

Making of colored pencil collages by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

This is often the way I make art journal pages: little by little, random lines, using up extra paint on the palette, saving a piece of paper from my stash. It’s a very unintentional process but after those finishing touches are added, it’s all good.

Art journal spread by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See how she creates these from paper scraps and colored pencils!

My Hand-Decorated Paper Stash

I have been doing this for a long time: making my collage papers and also saving the tiniest pieces. No matter what my main art projects are, there seems to always have time some scrap paper fun even if it’s sometimes just picking a small piece and gluing it on an art journal without analyzing what and why.

Using hand-decorated paper scraps for collage art by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Colored pencils are one of my favorite supplies and I also have papers decorated with them. When I go through my paper stash, I often add some colored pencils on painted ones just to make them more valuable in my eyes. Then I also have some true treasures – papers that only have colored pencils on them. They take more time to make, and to me, they are like silk and others are more like cotton, the basic stuff.

Using Imagination with Colored Pencil Collages

When I am playing, odd is good. Paper pieces sometimes have a mind of their own, and strange results may appear! Here’s an art journal page called “Three Sisters”. It started with paper scraps but really came to life when I added colors to the background with colored pencils. See how I used many colors for the background so that it completed the composition and made the piece more cheerful.

"Three Sisters" - an art journal page with colored pencils and paper scraps by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

This collage started with a quite traditional idea. I wanted to make a doll. But when the doll got more heads, I followed the imagination instead of trying to stick with the original thought.

Start with the Expressive Background!

Create Step by Step!

Try this process if you often ponder these questions:
a) what to put in the background?
b) how to express with color?

In this process, you will start with the background so that it creates a structure for the rest of the work. A grey paper enables you to use color for expression rather than trying to tone down a screaming scene when using only “beautiful” tones.

Supplies: Grey Paper, Colored Pencils, Paper Scraps

You will also need gel medium or paper glue for attaching the collage pieces, and a black drawing pen for finishing touches.

Creating colored pencil collages by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See the step-by-step instructions!

Step 1 – Coloring Freely

With white and dark grey (or black) colored pencils doodle random shapes. Fill some shapes by drawing, add shading, and have fun by playing with color values. Change the orientation once in a while so that your imagination keeps on going.

Creating colored pencil collages by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See the step-by-step instructions! Creating colored pencil collages by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See the step-by-step instructions!

Step 2 – Cut Tiny Collage Pieces

The pieces for this step can be really small ones, and you can cut them even smaller. Here’s one piece from my stash and I cut a smaller shape out of it!

Creating colored pencil collages by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See the step-by-step instructions!

Don’t worry about the composition yet, just cut so many small pieces that you have a collection to choose from.

Creating colored pencil collages by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See the step-by-step instructions!

Step 3 – Add Some Light and Shadows to Collage Pieces

With the white and dark grey (or black) pencils, add some shadowing around the edges and some highlights with white. All the pieces don’t necessarily need this but it makes solid-colored pieces look much more interesting.

Creating colored pencil collages by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See the step-by-step instructions!

Step 4 – Glue the Collage Pieces

Use the background as a support structure and an inspiration source for your collage! If you have problems with composition, go through my free mini-course Loosen Up and follow the tips there!

Creating a scrap paper collage by Peony and Parakeet. See the step-by-step instructions for using colored pencils and paper scraps!

Step 5 – Add More Color with Colored Pencils

This step integrates your collage pieces with the background.

Creating a scrap paper collage by Peony and Parakeet. See the step-by-step instructions for using colored pencils and paper scraps!

Step 6 – Draw Final Details with a Drawing Pen

Add some loose lines and dark details with a black drawing pen.

Finishing a paper collage by Peony and Parakeet. See the step-by-step instructions for using colored pencils and paper scraps!

Here’s my finished piece, a fantasy creature!

Phoenix by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See the step-by-step instructions for creating art with colored pencils and paper scraps.

Some Papers Last Longer than Others

I intended to cut some motifs out of this paper but maybe next time. Too precious for now! It’s inspired by Collageland.

Hand-decorated Paper by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See her class Collageland for more inspiration from textiles and embroidery!

Create Handmade Collage Art to Build Your Visual Dreamland – Buy Collageland!

 

 

Don’t Underestimate Your Scribbles! – Watch the Video!

This week, I have a video for you about the topic that I am really passionate. It’s about scribbles and how they are a part of an artist’s path. Believe me, ugly notebooks can be the best thing to boost up your creativity. Your scribbles matter!

Scribbles

In the video, I have divided my art into three categories: scribbles, sketches, and paintings. Here’s an example of a notebook page with scribbles:

Scribbles on Moleskine Classic Soft Cover notebook. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

Sketches

And here are some of the sketchbook pages that I show there (for you to pin if you like pinning!).

“Walking the Dog”
Walking the Dog, an abstract mixed media drawing by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

“Play”
"Play", a sketchbook page by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. See how she uses scribbles and sketches to boost her creative process!

“One Eye”
"One Eye", a sketchbook page by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

Paintings

Here’s a closeup of the painting that I am working on in the video:

Oil painting in progress. By Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

And here’s a detail of another painting in progress, also shown in the video:

Oil painting in progress by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet.

See my paintings in progress and buy my art: paivieerola.com

Don’t Underestimate Your Scribbles – Watch the Video!

Join Bloom and Fly – Move Forward with an Inspiring Community!

Bloom and Fly is a community for you who wants to explore visual and adventurous ideas, get feedback and suggestions for your art, and connect with like-minded art enthusiasts. We have a private Facebook group, monthly themes, live sessions, and weekly opportunities for practical help and feedback.

Bloom and Fly is geared for those who have been creating for some time. It doesn’t offer regular step-by-step walk-throughs where everyone creates the same project. You will get ideas, tips, and process photos around the monthly theme but if you are a beginner, buy one of my self-study classes (for example, Inspirational Drawing 2.0) to accompany your membership!

Registration is now open for Spring season (April – June 2018): Sign up here!

How to Add Depth when Creating Abstract Mixed Media Florals

Blooming Cactus, a mixed media painting by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet. Watch her video about how to create this and add visual depth to your art!

When I started drawing and painting as an adult, it took quite a long time for me to understand the power of creating visual depth. Before that, every time I wanted to highlight a particular element, I added more lines to it and it just looked stiffer and stiffer. When you add depth, your art is not like a sentence where every word is underlined.

Instead, your art becomes more like a paragraph that invites the viewer to dig deeper.

How to Add Depth – Create with Me!

In the video, I create a floral painting without any reference photos and give you some basic tips along the way. I use a mixed media approach and combine pens with paints to make the job easier!

Come and Create Unique Floral Treasures!

Level up your skills, find the process you love and let flowers show the way to expressive art! You don’t want to miss this class!

Floral Fantasies in Three Styles, a flower art class by Paivi Eerola from Peony and Parakeet

Floral Fantasies in 3 Styles begins on Feb 19th – sign up now!